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Paul Elwood
Interests: Music composition, jazz, performing, classical music, rock, literature, art
Recent Activity
I’ve taken to turning off my iPhone, iPad and computer WiFi when composing in the morning. I was starting to get into the addictive habit of checking email, Facebook, the weather forecast, and Instagram anytime I hit minor snags in the creative process. (“I wonder if anyone has ‘Liked’ my... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Frustration can be a great catalyst in driving the pencil. I’ve written some of what I consider to be my best music in the wreckage of some disastrous bad-hair-day, broken-nail incident. Years ago, I was devastated by some relationship that just didn’t come to pass. I sat up late nights... Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I just finished a composition for cajón (ón) and electronics. When asked to compose this piece by percussionist Patti Cudd of the renown Zeitgeist ensemble, I didn’t demure . . . but I didn’t know what I was going to do. Since the composition involves electronic samples triggered via the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Writer James Wood, in an interview on the New Yorker Radio Hour (June 15, 2018), stated that he doesn’t care much for the act of writing. It's hard. I’ve heard other writers and composers mirror this by stating: “I like having written.” When I had an artist residency in New... Continue reading
Posted Jun 21, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
But high in his stronghold Aeolus wields his scepter, soothing their passions, tempering their fury. Should he fail, surely they’d blow the world away, hurling the land and deep sky through space. Virgil, Aeneid, translated by Fagles, 49. These are wonderful images of the Greek mythological figure, Aeolus, keeper of... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Sometimes when I think of the grunt work involved in producing a composition (proofing, correcting, copying, proofing, correcting, creating parts, proofing parts, correcting parts, printing parts, etc.) I just want to punt and watch Monty Python reruns. But these are necessary steps in finishing. This drudge work is composition too. Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I’m finally reading Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Yes, it sounds deadly, and I’ve had the book on my shelf since I was a freshman or sophomore in college, but it is oddly interesting to read the rules of language and formal structure that I try to practice... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Formal structure has been a longtime problem for me. My early compositions were mostly written straight through following intuition. I’d compose one version, go back to the beginning and rewrite what I’d written, and a third time I’d go back and revise once more. Usually the last version was the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
It is said that Soviet era composer Shostakovich worked in the midst of many distractions. I imagine him sitting at a table in an small Moscow apartment surrounded by family and working in spite of it all, gradually producing a lot of music. At least that’s how I imagine it.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I'm putting the final touches on the chamber portion of the composition I'm composing and drew a double bar today. There's a lot left to do: I have electronic ideas that will be inserted into the acoustic portion of the piece, and video pieces to be created and placed, but... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Composing is one of those things I've never lost a passion for. I try to do it—or something related to it—every day. The passion we have for our discipline can sustain us through the hard work of making something happen, of bringing a composition, painting, novel, etc. into being. But... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
This morning my writing session was interrupted by several external distractions that I couldn't do much about. I finally gave up on trying to be productive and decided to clean house - literally. My studio is sometimes a mess, and any decent artist might tell you that you have to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Today I worked straight through for about 4 and a half hours and managed not to look at the clock the entire time. I figured that if I did, that a chain reaction would begin: I’d start thinking about time, which would lead to concern about other things I might... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
"The reason why . . . so-called good luck should fall to the lot of others, is good friendship, which grants and wishes them, and itself too, this lucky chance." - Hegel, from The Phenomenology of Spirit, p. 380, trans. Miller. Luck, Hegel seems to be saying, is due in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 10, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
For when a person let attention range toward every wisp, s/he loses true direction, sapping the mind’s force with continual change. - Dante, Purgatory, Canto V, lines 16-18 (modified) It’s true, if I don’t turn off the internet, or close my door to intrusions, or if I leap up to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Enkei was asked by a monk, “It is said that if we see the form of things, we see mind. If we take a (stone) lantern as form, what is the mind? Enkei said, “You don’t understand the meaning of this saying of the Ancients.” The monk asked, “What is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
I often begin a composition with research on something that I wish to express. At the same time I begin sketching ideas on staff paper and in the notebook I’ve mentioned. Over time the research and ideas gradually morph into a larger composition. I’m now rearranging sections of the composition... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Business. I often neglect this aspect of being a composer/performer. Most times I’d rather just do my work. But, Seth Godin, in his wonderful podcast Akimbo, advises us all to do business every day. Otherwise, there will be no reason for us to do the work. Without proper marketing and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 6, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. - Michaelangelo Buonarroti Today I once again had trouble jump-starting my body and mind to work. I mean, I did it, I woke up, made coffee (sweet nectar of heaven)... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Organizing time and work is difficult. Sometimes it will take me 10 minutes to find a file on the computer that I was working on the day before, the name of which I completely forgot. So, I’m learning to write things down. For the project I’m working on, a 45... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
This morning I sat down to compose after a bad night’s sleep and, atypically, I just couldn’t do it. Usually I slog on and sometimes good results ensue. This morning I started on one project and just couldn’t bring myself to focus. I then decided to work on another and... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Few write as an architect builds, drawing up a plan beforehand and thinking it out down to the smallest details. - Arthur Schopenhauer Well, I used to create a detailed plan, sometimes down to 5-to-10 second increments of a composition, and often when I followed the plan, the piece might... Continue reading
Posted Jun 2, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
What is the first thing that comes into my head when I sit down to compose in the morning? That I don’t actually know. Oftentimes I don’t plan ahead and, instead, follow John Cage’s advice to “Begin anywhere.” And somehow that yields results. I guess the process of not planning... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2018 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
One thing I love about a career in music is the continual discovery. Currently, I'm working on an opera with librettist/director Brian Luedloff based on Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew." A couple of years ago I was erroneously pontificating an end to opera. But, that was just a based on... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2017 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood
Rollo May in "The Courage to Create" (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1975., p. 12), paraphrases Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus, and Sartre saying that "courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair." I don't know how often I have had... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2017 at Soundchoices: Paul Elwood